For Waylon fans who passed on the grand four-CD retrospective from 2006, Nashville Rebel, the good folks at RCA Nashville/Legacy offer this truncated double disc of prime Waylon, spiced with but a tad of non-hit material in the midst of monuments from the quintessential outlaw's storied career. Of the 42 cuts here, only 2 are unavailable on Nashville Rebel -- those being a 1964 Cajun-flavored barnburner, "Big Mamou," from an early live date, and 1978's "A Long Time Ago," a terrific, low-key Jennings/Shel Silverstein-penned autobiographical reflection on a cowboy singer's trials and tribulations as he fights to make his own voice heard. Otherwise the discs chart a chronological journey through Waylon's outlaw artistry, from two thoughtful cuts from his terrific 1965 album, Folk-Country, to his 1987 chart-topper for MCA, "Rose in Paradise." In between are the expected beauties -- "Only Daddy That'll Walk the Line"; Willie Nelson's devastating "Pretend I Never Happened"; Billy Joe Shaver's "Honky Tonk Heroes"; "Luckenbach, Texas"; and a host of Waylon's original masterpieces on the order of "This Time," "Bob Wills Is Still the King," "Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way," "I've Always Been Crazy," "Don't You Think This Outlaw Bit's Done Got Out of Hand," and of course the classic Waylon/Willie co-writes, "Good Hearted Woman" and "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys." The subtext here is Waylon often taking a dyspeptic look at himself and his fellow outlaws, further indication of the restless artist always looking to take his music in new directions. But that's another story; for a short course a how a dynamic, tradition-rooted vision of country music was fully realized, The Essential Waylon Jennings gets the job done, and then some.